If you are working long hours: 40, 50 or even 60 hours each week, the chances are with distractions like online entertainment, snacking on the go and ill-designed time management, you are only churning out high-quality work during a portion of each day. I know I have often got into bad habits of having too many things on the go and doing nothing well!
Here are four practical steps to incorporate into your routine to optimise your time at work and maintain productivity all day long:
1) 7 minutes of exercise: yes you read right 7 not 10. Now I can almost get excited about doing 7 minutes. Why 7 minutes? It's short enough that it won't impact the rest of your morning routine and long enough to shake off any residual sluggishness from the night before. Ideally this should not be your only exercise see 23.5 hours
There are endless fitness routines to turn to, but the one I like best is called the 7 Minute Workout (and yes, there's an app for that). In just seven minutes, it works all major muscle groups with 12 total exercises.
2) Start your day out green: Sure, we've all been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it's pretty easy to reach for toast and coffee or a bowl of cereal, to get your metabolism going.
While all of these options are ok choices once in a while, you will be amazed at the morning lift you can get from a green smoothie. And smoothie requires less time in the morning than making coffee and toast.
It's so quick and easy, just blend (for about a minute): one apple, one banana, a handful of spinach or kale, handful half of frozen berries, 1/4 cup natural yoghurt, water or coconut water and a tablespoon of chia seeds, if you need to sweeten it add a few dates or honey and you have a power packed breakfast. It's cheap, easy and energising.
3) Pick 3 wins for the day: Decide on the three things that you'd like to accomplish in the next 12 hours in order for you to feel like the day was a success. Now not every day will be straight forward, but by organising your day in this way will help you feel you have achieved and means you get to tick those items off your list. This is specially important if you have a type A personality or one of your strengths is achieving (see Gallup StrengthsFinder).
Try blocking blocking your calendar to achieve those wins. One of the most common mistakes people make at work is not turning to-do lists into time-bound, effective project lists. I've found that by allocating time you are far more likely to deliver tasks on time.
It's simple: For each of the big things on your list, block off the amount of time on your calendar that you estimate the task might take -- and then add 33% more time just to be sure.
If a project is multi-day or has dependencies, break it up into digestible chunks. Use one block to plan and a second or third block to accomplish.
This simple method will help hold you accountable and immediately help you refocus on the tasks you've prioritized when you do get distracted. Too often, we let one distraction steamroll an entire morning -- now you don't have to let that client email derail you from your winning plan for the day.
4) Power up after lunch: Take the 15 minutes right after lunch to refocus on the day -- Stop - Relax - Refocus. Get away from your desk, work area or computer, go outside or sit in a different room and determine what you have left to do for that day.
Think about how the list you set in the morning is shaping up. Are you ahead of schedule? Behind schedule? You'll find that these 15 minutes help you identify how you are going - (and often in my case how I got derailed), what's causing you distractions and help you to stay or get back on track.
Give this simple formula a try for a week and I think you'll be pleased with the results.